Alice Lyman Miller, a China scholar and a former CIA analyst define “A ‘superpower’ as a country that has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world, and sometimes, in more than one region of the globe at a time, and so may plausibly attain the status of global hegemony,” This requires excelling in multiple areas of power projection: economic, military, political and even cultural . In all standards, the United States only wear the cap appropriately since it overtook Great Britain as the world’s dominant country.
Over the years, there have been several potential superpowers emerging with promising prospects among which the European Union and the BRICS involving Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa are recognized. These countries gain the individual international recognition they deserve, garnished with merited accolades in remaining relevant.
China has proved itself to be a formidable potential global force, with an outsize influence in shaping the 21st century but whether it overtakes the U.S. is still a mystery though it seems likely. They have been able to transform a poor society by an economic miracle to become arguably the world’s second-largest economy in the world.
In the last 15 years, China has been involved in a breathtaking and questionable lending, this goes far beyond it’s geographical regions to the depth of Africa. It is important to note that over 100 predominantly low-income countries have gotten Chinese loans in order to finance their infrastructure projects and sometimes expand their producing capacity.
For instance, Sri Lanka experienced a boom in their economy due to a loan they had gotten from China, the country prospered in all ways and manners but this was short-lived because when the payback time came, the Sri Lanka government realized they have way too much debt. As a result, they ended up renegotiating more deals with the Chinese government which involves a 99-year lease deal handling over control of it’s investments to the Chinese government, one of which is the port of Hambantota.
Another case, the Kilamba City in Angola is a large housing development which was built by the China International Trust and Investment Corporation and Investment Corporation with the aim of housing up to half a million people but the aftermath of this project was non-profitable as it was too expensive for the middle-class citizen. Nonetheless, the government had already signed a long term deal with their natural resources for the reimbursement of their debts to the Chinese government.
With over 10,000 Chinese-owned firms operating in Africa,¹ we must admit that the Chinese are doing quite well in being the next superpower but the motives are quite unclear essentially because, in some of the countries where they build infrastructural projects, they fly in their laborers taking away job opportunities from the population.
One is forced to ask what are the inherent motives to the Chinese lending, especially to these growing economies? What are the futuristic drawbacks of being indebted to Beijing? Is this the modern day colonialism? What are their diplomatic strategies?
China continues to make a mark on the world as they have the largest troop in the United Nations peacekeeping missions, pays more than 10 percent of the UN’s total budget above any country besides the United States. They have shown enormous interest in developing an edge in new technologies such as hypersonic missiles, cyber and artificial intelligence.
Obviously, China is not folding its arms for an opportunity to be presented to them on a platter of gold and have worked ceaselessly for every achievements and success they have made over the years. Nevertheless, there is more than meets the eyes.